Not a NIMBY


Few of us live on the doorstep of our favourite team. We all have to get in the car, jump on the train or hop on a bus to get to a game these days. When I travel abroad to watch football these days I will always try to find a hotel close to the ground, enjoying that smug feeling of being in the bar 10 minutes after the game whilst other fans struggled to make their way home. Smug that is until the opposition fans steam in and trash it.

I once knew a Brentford fan who found his dream house in Braemer Road, literally a stone’s throw from his favourite seat in the main stand.  After a season he was so fed up of fans throwing litter in his garden, scratching his car and generally behaving like football fans do he put in up for sale.  It was bought by another Brentford fan.  We are all mugs aren’t we when it comes to football? Stick a bloody club badge on a pile of crap and we will lap it up.

During my years working over here in Copenhagen I have been lucky enough to see a few games.  I have travelled far and wide in Scandinavia when the opportunity has arisen but still there is no place like “home” and the opportunity to walk up the road to catch a game.  Parken, the national stadium, is a 20 minute stroll from TBIR Towers here in the Capital of Cool. In the past year it has been a bumper time for the stadium, hosting sell out games in the Champions League against Chelsea and Barcelona.  England came here in February as I was able to enjoy the company of some of Fleet Street’s finest.  But the dream fixture (apart from Lewes FC) would be seeing West Ham play in Copenhagen.

Back in early June I was sitting in a meeting when my phone vibrated.  Nothing unusual there as it seems to go off every few minutes with another offer to buy Viagra or the news that I had been chosen by some wealthy widow to receive all of her cash.  But it went off about a dozen times in thirty seconds.  Such situations are like when the phone goes at home late at night.  You immediately think “Who is dead”?  I excused myself and saw 10 text messages from a variety of people.

“Can I stay at yours?”, “I will bring the beers”, “Bet you are happy about that” were three examples.  I had no idea on what people were talking about until I consulted Auntie Twitter (Uncle Google is the font of all historical knowledge, Twitter the news now).  The Hammers were coming to town.  Unbelievable Jeff.  My West Ham were playing in Copenhagen.  And I could walk there.

R-E-S-U-L-T.  I did a little jig of joy and I gloated to every one I could.  Everyone in the office surely felt that this was the biggest game ever?  Nope.  Not even a flicker of interest.  Even the FCK season ticket holders suggested it would be a dead duck.  The game fell a week into their season and would simply be an opportunity to get some more practice under their belt.

“It will be like playing everyone else in the Superliga last season” Said one fan, referring to the ease with which FCK won the league last season, winning 25 of their 33 games. I couldn’t disagree at the time with the Hammers in disarray after being relegated with a whimper.

But time has moved on.  West Ham have appointed Sam Allardyce and the job of trying to retain our Premier League status has started.  The club immediately put its valuable assets up for sale.  In fact, in another dreadful PR move they actually put them up for sale publically prior to the season end.  But bids had been slow to come in.  Cole was on the bring of signing for Stoke City, but the deal broke down last weekend and the striker immediately went on the charm offensive by saying he “was ready to fight to get the Hammers back in the Premier League”.  Scott Parker had been touted all over the place by the press.  The latest beaus had been Chelsea, interested in taking him back as cover for Michael Essien on a season-long loan.  The situation on Robert Green less public.  A rumoured interest from Bursaspor had come to nothing, with the Turks signing Scott Carson instead.

Last week we crossed the Alps and watched a young team, mixed with a few older squad players lose to Young Boys Berne. Two days later they lost again to FC Basel.  So now was an opportunity to test themselves against a much stronger team in theory; a team who reached the last 16 in the Champions League last season, a fact borne out by the starting XI which featured Green, Parker and Noble – all players who if you believe the English press would not be starting the Championship season, well not at West Ham anyway.

Obviously, when in Copenhagen and watching FCK it is necessary to meet up with Ivar and Hans, and tonight was no different.  After making sure Mick “Know it All” was pointed in the right direction of the £10 pints at Nyhavn we headed from some traditional Danish fayre – Stegt Flæsk og Persille Sovs and lashings of Carlsberg Special (note to fans in England this is NOT the same as Special Brew!).

West Ham fans are some of the loyalist in the game and so it was no surprise to come out of the restaurant and find them marching up the road to the ground.  Tickets for the game were being sold at 120DKR (£15) which is cheap for Danish standards, and despite the long summer break, the home fans hadn’t warmed to this game.  In fact it looked like some had been left behind after the aborted Take That concert on Saturday, cancelled at the last-minute after Robbie Williams developed “food poisoning”.  The away end of Parken still showed signs of where the stage was, meaning the Hammers fans were located above the action in the area normally reserved for the Brondby bonfires.

FC Copenhagen 0 West Ham United 1 – Parken – Wednesday 20th July 2011
If I was to say that the biggest cheer of the first half was for an announcement that Ajax had beaten Brondby on the other side of the city you would get an idea that it wasn’t the best of halves.  One of the issues that West Ham faced last season was the propensity Avram Grant had to “tinker” with a team.  Not when we lost (well, OK he did when we lost) but also when we eventually won a game.  One massive stand out problem was the defence.

So it was with a groan that we saw Winston Reid starting at centre-back.  Fair does to the New Zealander, he looked a Championship player from the first whistle, pumping the ball long to the corners as if he was trying to impress John Beck himself.

The Hammers started with Parker, Noble AND Nolan in the middle of the park.  That was obviously never going to work with two players often fighting for the same ball in the opening exchanges.  And talking of fighting, there was good old Boa Morte, tussling at one point with a paper bag that had blown onto the pitch.

West Ham did create the opening chance which Boa Morte fired straight at the keeper, which was a darn sight closer than Nolan’s effort – West Ham’s only other effort in the first half that sailed into the empty top-tier behind the goal.

That being said Robert Green didn’t have a proper save to make.  He bravely threw himself at a ball to just beat Dame N’Doye (no relation to Dame Maggie Smith) and injured himself in the process.  Cue the sight of 8 foot Ruud Boffin warming up with Freddie Sears on the touch-line and come the half time break it was clear that Green would take no further part.

The second half saw FCK start the stronger and they had the ball in the net on 52 minutes but a linesman flag denied them a goal. Five minutes later Allardyce made some changes to try to inject some pace into the lacklustre Hammers display.  On came Sears, Brown and O’Brien for Collison, Parker and Nolan.

Fifteen minutes later and the referee again was shattering the dreams of the FCK fans.  Boffin made a great save bravely diving at the feet of the oncoming FCK forward who made contact, the ball spilt loose and was put in the net. It was all Copenhagen at this stage.  Another chance went begging a few minutes later when a great move saw the ball find Nordstrand in one of those Carlos Alberto moments from the 1970 World Cup Final.  The Brazilian gave us all a lesson by keeping his head down and powering through the ball.  Alas the Dane did nothing of the sort and the ball sales over.

And then it happened. I could feel it in my water.  In fact I even Tweeted that I thought there would be a goal.  And two minutes later I was right.  After Joey O’Brien’s header had been brilliantly saved by Johan Wiland, Freddie Sears picked up a loose ball, waltzed past two defenders and slotted the ball into the net.  The improbable had just become the possible.

With just a minute or so left there was little time for FCK create anything and when the final whistle blew there were only a few hardy home fans left in the stadium.  At the far end the West Ham fans were quite rightly rocking.  It had been a hard fought win, but it was a win and a win against a team who would be competing in the Champions League.  In fact I think we deserve a cup for such a victory – the Carlsberg Little Mermaid Lego Trophy I think will do, taking pride of place alongside the Intertoto Cup.

After the game I went down and spoke with Jack Collison.  Almost a year ago we interviewed him as he started his rehabilitation from his knee injury.  Now he was back playing again and looking forward to the start of the season, especially as first up was Cardiff City, the team followed by the majority of his family.  I then managed to grab a word or two with Big Sam.  Click Sam interview to hear what he had to say.

So a good evenings work all round.  As the team departed back to their hotel, ready for their flight back to the UK I was able to walk home, enjoying the sights and sounds of the city In My “Back Yard”.

More photos from the game can be found on our Flickr feed here.

twitter / theballisround

World dominance the FCK way…part 2


Continuing our discussions with our 3 FCK fans about their dominance in the Danish game.

Do you think that the departure of Solbakken next year will have a big effect on the side?

IP -Very tough question, and shying away from answering I would say: It certainly depends on who replaces him.  However, I have, as my previous answers should indicate, a strong faith in the management and I think they would only get someone in who would fit into the long term strategies for the club. They would of course have their own style and methods, and in the job they will get a lot of tactical and operational freedom, but strategy is everything. So the answer must be, that I don’t think it will have a big effect.

CA – Inevitably. Solbakken leaves at the end of the season to take charge of the Norway national team in 2012, and it’s going to have a huge impact on FCK. The coach has been far and away the key figure in the team’s recent success, and it’s testament to his tactical acumen that Copenhagen put in such impressive European performances. Solbakken’s usual formation is 4-4-2, but he’s not a manager who imposes a dogmatic philosophy on his sides, and FCK are eminently capable of switching systems between and during games. This was particularly evident in the Champions League, where only in one game – away to Rubin Kazan – did Solbakken clearly get some tactical decisions wrong. In my opinion, he’s establishing himself as one of the finest emerging coaches in Europe.

CW – It’s hard to say. I think it would be different if it happened one day to another. Everybody knows that Solbakken is out after this season – at least as things are right now, rumours are beginning to circulate – but of course it will be difficult. But Solbakken has made it very clear that he intends to hand over a side with a lot of possibilities so that the work he’s done can be continued.

Is there a frustration that the club sold out for the game versus Barcelona yet for normal league games there are thousands of empty seats?

IP – Yeah, some fans are frustrated. Fans attend games for some of the same reasons and also for different reasons. Personally, as long as the 20-30 people I stand with are there – and they normally always are – I am happy. I think the club did what they could ensuring the FCK Supporters areas were filled with FCK supporters and not Barcelona fans – not a 100% success but I don’t think they practically could have done more.  I thought it slightly bemusing how many friends I had suddenly coming out of the closet as FCK fans asking if I could get them tickets. For me, the more people the merrier. For me, the glass is either full against Barcelona or half full against Esbjerg. It’s never half empty. Continue reading

On the fourth day of Christmas – The best away fans


On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me….a set of away fans to make you proud as can be

Few teams these days really take a passionate away following wherever they go. Perhaps it is the cost of the tickets, the fact that fans are treated like criminals as soon as they step foot inside the ground or the simple blandness of most grounds now in England. However, outside of the Premier League there are some teams whose away support is legendary. In the 86 games we have seen in 2010 there have been some memorable away followings for a number of reasons, ranging from the single away fan from IP Bromma at Helsingborgs in March, to the thousands of York City and Oxford United fans that descended on Wembley Stadium in May for the Blue Square Bet Play off finals. But there can only be three winners in our 12 Days of Christmas awards….I give you the best away fans we saw in 2010.

FC Copenhagen – Whilst the team have dominated the SAS Superliga this season, finishing the first half of the season a mere 19 points ahead of 2nd place after just 19 games, FCK’s fans have certainly haven’t been bored in travelling all across Denmark to watch their team. A few weeks ago nearly a thousand fans travelled some four hours by train in appalling conditions to Randers where they stood on an open terrace in temperatures of minus 10 to cheer their team onto a comfortable 3-0 win. Whilst the passionate fans are often lost in the half empty 38,000 capacity Parken, away from home they generate serious noise on the road. The games against Brondby have been a tinderbox in the past few seasons, although the core of fans only want to support the team.

Dartford – Five years ago it was all doom and gloom for Dartford fans, facing another season in the Kent League, wondering where they would be playing their home games. But the one thing that never changed was the passionate core of support the club had. And it was the drive, commitment and enthusiasm of these fans, as with the case with AFC Wimbledon, FC United of Manchester and now FC Halifax Town, that the club have risen to where they are today. The first step was a stadium, the second was consistency off the pitch – again is it co-incidence that Dartford, FCUM and Wimbledon have risen up the leagues with the same man in charge? Even in the Kent League Dartford took hundreds of fans to the likes of Herne Bay and Lordswood, almost quadrupling the crowd in many instances. Last season we saw around 500 Dartford fans cram into Tonbridge Angels ground, not letting up their positive support for the team for the whole 90 minutes. Now just one step below where they should rightfully be, the fans can take massive credit for the role they have played in this rise from the ashes.

Ijsselmeervogel – A third tier Dutch game hardly sets the minds racing. It is the equivalent of a Blue Square Premier game in England. But when you have two teams from the same village, hell even sharing the same car park then you are onto a winner. Add in an inferiority complex that means both clubs will do anything to out do each other and you are sure to get a cracking atmosphere when they play each other twice a season.  A few hundred words here cannot do justice to the fans so head over to EFW to read about the whole event.

World Dominance the FCK way..part 1


It may have escaped your notice this season but the Premier League is one of the most open we have seen for decades.  The situation is not the same across Europe though.  Head 600 miles east from London and you will land pretty much in the centre of Copenhagen, home to FCK, or FC Kobenhavn to give them their full name.  Half way through the season and they are 19 points clear, with a goal difference of plus 33.  They have made it through to the knock out phases of the Champions League where they will play Chelsea in late February.

So why have they become so dominant?  We sat down with three FCK fans, all long term fans of The Ball is Round to discuss the situation.  We provided the Carlsberg, they provided the insight.

Have FCK just better in past 2 years or have the rest got worse?

Ivar Petersen – Mainly FCK have gone better for reasons listed below which then make the other teams, relatively speaking, seem worse.

Charlie Anderson – Ominously, it’s mostly been improvement from FCK. The last two seasons have seen Copenhagen, OB and Brøndby finish first, second and third respectively, so the challengers – such as they are – have been pretty consistent. The mid- and lower-placed teams have got worse, though, which has had an effect on FCK’s margin of victory. In 2008-09 they won the league by five points, and last season that gap increased to nine. Halfway through this campaign, FCK are nineteen points clear and haven’t lost a game. A marked improvement is also indicated by their results in Europe. In 2006, an FCK team containing Brede Hangeland, Marcus Allbäck and Lars Jacobsen finished fourth with seven points in their Champions League group. This year under the same coach, Ståle Solbakken, the club qualified for the knockout stages, taking a point from FC Barcelona on the way to finishing second with ten points. Continue reading

All the bases are loaded


Does what it says on the tin

Essex Park. Try finding that one on the map of grounds in Europe and I bet your efforts at locating it will end in frustration after you have trawled through the English Non Leagues. You see it isn’t on these shores at all. It’s in Denmark, in the city of Randers to be precise and is home to Superliga Randers FC. Quite why it is called such I do not know, but when someone recently asked me I vowed to find out and that is why at 6.30am on a freezing cold Sunday morning I was boarding a Ryanair flight to the even colder area of Denmark known as Jutland. Continue reading

Simon Cowell – where are you now?


Just 10 days after the Copenhagen derby I was back.  Back in Parken, back drinking with Ivar the magician and back watching FCK.  The seats in the stadium had been repaired, and this time I had a media pass thanks to Charles Maskelyne, the first Danish person I had ever met who hailed from Ipswich.

Ready for Simon Cowell

For that game against Brondby the whole city had held its breath waiting for something to happen.  Tonight with less than a third of the ground full the talk was actually about the forthcoming X-Factor Live Final due to take place on the following weekend rather than FCK’s potential 8th consecutive clean sheet that would break a league record.   But still it gave us the opportunity to meet up again with Ivar and experience the Parken Tower – think a tube filled with 4 litres of your finest Carlsberg served at your table – what a pre-match warm up!

FCK FC Nordjaelland – Parken – Wednesday 24th March 2010

Thanks for remindiung us Carlsberg

The first thing to mention is the roof was closed.  Obviously X-Factor was taking precedent here with the lighting rig already up but we were here to see history.  FC Nordjaelland’s 100 or so fans gave a good account of themselves throughout the game, proudly waving their flags (did you know it is severely frowned upon to fly a Danish flag after 6pm?  And whatever you do never mention a German flag!) but they were outplayed by a FCK team in the first twenty minutes who were walking to the SAS Ligean title after some pre-Christmas challenges from OB and AGF, or so we thought.

The amazing thing is that the away team managed to keep the scoreline at 0-0 for so long.  In fact if it wasn’t for a fine reaction save from Johan Wiland in the FCK goal on 34 minutes it was have been 1-0 to FC Nordjaelland.

I am not often distracted by adverts around the pitch but when flashes up as Men2rent.dk you have to think about what market they are trying to attract? (it is a recruitment agency according to my learned friend sitting next to me!).  So half time came and went with no score on the board and apart from that one FCN header very little to write home about which was quite handy considering the tower of Carlsberg still sitting heavily in my beer stomach (my girls have a desert tummy which means they can be “full” of their dinner but still find room for ice cream/cake/pancakes so I apply the same principles to beer).

1-0 FCN

Fifty four minutes in and the script was well and truly torn up as FCN’s Patrice Bernier was allowed to run to the edge of the box unchallenged before planting the ball into the corner of the FCK net with a shot that any Wolves player (too painful to remember from last night) would have been proud of and send FCK’s record clean sheet attempt up in smoke.

FCK went straight up the other end and should have scored from a chance created for Hutchinson but amazingly instead found themselves 2-0 just five minutes later when Nicki Bille Nielsen somehow lobbed the ball over Wiland in the FCK goal with a mis-hit shot from 20 yards.  A few minutes later FC Nordjaelland took off Sibuisio Zuma and in one of those rare “we don’t care about who you play for now” moments, all of the sparse crowd gave the former FCK player a generous round of applause – just as player like Rooney would get at Everton, or Lampard at Upton Park.

Sixty eight minutes in and Dame N’Doye (no relation to Dame Judy Dench or Maggie Smith I should add) had FCK’s best chance when he turned the FCN defender and smacked the ball against the bar, giving the crowd the feeling this was going to be a bad day at the office.   Hutchinson followed this up with another bad miss as the clock ran down into single digits, but it has to be said that FC Nordjaelland deserved their win even more so than Wolves did at Upton Park last night.   FCK had disappointed, creating few chances and spurning the opportunity to go six points clear at the top.

Gronkjaer choses Cheryl

So to the post match activities.  As regular readers of the blog will know my Danish extends to “yes”, “no” and “you’re fired” so I wasn’t expecting much from the press conference.  I did pick up that FC Nordjaelland were “over the moon” with the result and that FCK’s management were “as sick as a parrot” but that is about it.  My one question to Jesper Gronkjaer – “Danni or Cheryl – which one?” went unanswered but not for the want of trying!

Welcome to the 7th most expensive city on earth


In February 2009 the consultancy firm Mercer produced their annual list of the 50 most expensive cities in the world to live in.  The report, available here, showed that Tokyo had become the most expensive city in the world to live in, knocking down Moscow from their top spot in 2008.  Despite the rip off of London Transport, London had slipped down to 16th.  Sitting 7th for the second year in a row was the capital of cool, Copenhagen.  Home to Carlsberg, bacon and lovely little bundles of blonde fun it had also become my official second home as a decent promotion at work (Business Manager, Nordic Regions if you would believe) meant that I would be spending alot more time in Denmark.  Part of my package was a very nice waterfront flat, which I gratefully accepted.  All I had to do was furnish it, clean it and buy all those essentials a man needs to make it through the working week.

CMF came over to give the place a once over last week, and drew up a list of essentials for the flat.  So, ladies and gentlemen, find below ten examples why Copenhagen is in the top ten again.  At the time of going to press there was 8.6 Danish Kroner to the £.

1. A bottle of Head and Shoulders shampoo – Boots @ Bluewater £2.29.  Facta supermarket in Copenhagen 62 Danish Kroner (£7.16).

2. Marmite.  An absolute essential in the Fuller household – Sainsburys @ Chislehurst £1.79.  Copenhagen 52 DKR (£6)* I did try to smuggle some in – see Marmitegate below.

3. Lloyd Grossman Tomato & Chili sauce – Tesco @ Borough £1.98.  Copenhagen 55 DKR (£6.34).

4. Findus Crispy Pancakes – Iceland @ Scumville £1.09.  Copenhagen 67DKR (£7.74).

5. Andrex soft arse toilet roll – Co-Op @ New Eltham £1.99.  Copenhagen 48DKR (£5.54).

6. A pair (why are they always called a pair when there is only 1?) of scissors – Ikea @ Lakeside – £0.79.  Ikea @ Copenhagen 37DKR (£4.28)

7. Duracell AA batteries 4 pack (for my remote controls) – Dixons @ Stansted Airport – £2.29.  Copenhagen 50DKR (£5.78).

8. FHM Magazine – WH Smiths @ Stansted Airport – £3.95.  Copenhagen Airport 85 DKR (£9.82).

9. Disposable Razors – Superdrug @ London Bridge – £3.99 for 6.  Copenhagen 80DKR (£9.24).

10. 6 Cans of Carlsberg Special – Borough Market – £6.99.  Copenhagen Beer Markt 49DKR (£5.78)

*Marmitegate – I cannot live without Marmite and it is true that you either love it or hate it.  In the Fuller family we are all in the former’s camp and so we often have a spare couple of jars and so I took one with me on this trip.  As I went through security at the airport I was told it was bigger than the 100ml allowable bottles.  All the jar said was 250g, no capacity limit.  So I questioned the decision and was told “they” have sizing charts to show common bottles, and 250g of Marmite is over the allowable limit.  I asked to see said chart, but was denied.  So I had to hand over my precious, brand new jar but not before opening it in front of the security guard, and taking a fingerful just so that he couldn’t snaffle it away for his breakfast later.  I have since written to Unilever to get clarification on the Marmite sizing issue and will hopefully be able to prove my case on a future trip.

I had been given an allowance of £25 a week for my groceries.  So fed up after week one in being ripped off I decided on week two to go for the grown up approach – a ticket for FC Copenhagen v APOEL in the Champions League and a six pack of Carlsberg Special beer – total price £24.87..perfect.  Man cannot live on Marmite, Crispy Pancakes and FHM alone.  And as I managed to convince my Mum to make me some food parcels every week (I am only 39 after all!), and with CMF doing all of my ironing, and even an offer of the cleaning duties by the wonderful Tina in the office I was sorted.  So what else was I supposed to spend my money on apart from beer and football ?(I should add at this stage that the flat came with super XL cable TV with free unrestricted access to all, and I mean ALL, channels).

Due to the changes put in place by Monsieur Platini, the Champion League this year seemed to have been going on for ever.  The final hurdle before the Group Stages is the Playoff round…This is where the worst placed teams in each of the domestic league qualifiers come in in a special group of their own.  FCK had been in the competition since mid July, beating Mogran the Montenegrin champions, then beating my new favourites StabaekIF from Norway.  So they were now 180 minutes away from the Group Stages, and assuming Arsenal overcame Celtic then would have a one in two chance of drawing an English club and thus a massive pay day from the home game.  In November 2006 they beat Manchester United 1-0 in the Champions League in front of a sell out crowd with an average ticket price over 350DKR (£40).  For the game against APOEL, winners against Partizan Belgrade in the previous round, tickets were half the price.

So, a short walk and a 10 minute train trip saw me outside the Parken, the national stadium, now fully renovated after a multi-million Kroner redevelopment over the past two years.  The old stadium, the Osterbro had also had a facelift of its own and I sneaked in prior to the game for a quick look.  This was the original Parken, home to B1903 who were one of the clubs merged to form FCK as well as BK Skjold who play in the Danish 2nd division.

The crowd was sparse to say the least so I had no problems getting a seat on the touchline so I could observe the antics of the few hundred travelling fans, which being Greek, would mean a passionate, if unreasoned display, and I was not wrong.  APOEL are the most successful team in Cypriot football having won the championship on twenty occasions, and have reached this stage of the Champions League back in 2002.  They were hoping to emulate the fantastic achievements of Anorthosis last season in reaching the Group Stages.  They can also claim to have had such players as Chris Bart-Williams, Dean Gordon and Terry McDermott at the club at various stages in the past twenty years.

FC Copenhagen 1 APOEL FC 0 – Parken – Tuesday 18th August 2009

They really dont like the linesman

They really dont like the linesman

So with no more than 15,000 in the stadium the atmosphere was muted.  As the teams walked out to the Champions League anthem you would be confused to think this was FCK v Brondby based on the kits…Ah the Kits…FCK love a kit or four.  I went to the club shop before the game to see what wears they had.  For once it was hard to find any tack (apart from a blow up sun lounger in the shape of a FCK shirt) but what I did find was shirts galore.  FCK have obviously been to the English football club school of ripping fans off as they had not one, two, three or four but FIVE kits.  Brace yourself for this:-

Kit one – All white with blue trim used as their Superliga home kit
Kit two – An all black number which is their Superliga away/change kit
Kit three – A change shirt just in case Newcastle or Notts County are moved to the Danish leagues of pink (not salmon pink or fuscia more like highlighter pen pink) and black shorts.  I did ask one of the guys from the office who goes regularly how many times he has seen them wear that kit and he couldn’t ever remember one occasion.
Kit four – An all white with blue AND red trim used for their European home games.  It is exactly the same as the home kit but one half has red piping on sleeves and edge of shorts.
Kit five – An all navy kit used as their European away/change kit

As they are sponsored by Carlsberg they also have to produce a non sponsored top for children or when they play in alcohol paranoid countries such as France.  Add to these the three goalkeepers shirts and you can understand how confusing it is for the fans as to which shirt to buy and still look cool (remember this is Copenhagen, the capital of cool where everything has to be just right).

The away fans tried to raise their teams efforts, but for the first half an hour they simply got the run around from a much more inventive FCK team who still had the tricky Jesper Gronkjaer on the left wing.  Some of the FCK passing across the field was excellent, but they simply could not find the final ball.  The Canadian Atiba Hutchinson did much of the running for the Danes, but APOEL, but on a nucleus of aging non-Greek players held firm.  In the first half alone there was just 2 shots on goal, both coming from the home team.

The second half improved slowly but seemed to come to life after APOEL’s Haxhi was cautioned for a silly foul on Hutchinson.  In the fifty third minute the deadlock was broken as FCK’s attacking full back Pospech appeared unmarked at the far post to head home.  The goal did spur APOEL into action and they came the closest to a goal all evening when Alexandrou went close.  The away fans had been getting more and more upset with the linesman in our corner as they deemed some of his flagging a little excessive.  Tempers reached boiling point when an arguement broke out over who should keep the ball that had ended up in the crowd and stewards had to intervene between two bear chested posturing Cypriots, full of testosterone and frustration.  It was all in vain though as FCK came the closest to a second when a shot from the impressive Almeida hit the post and then in the dying seconds Haxhi committed another stupid foul and realised he was to get a second yellow.  So he could just take it like a man, walking off without a second glance but he decided to take the Stephen Taylor (Newcastle United Centre Back v Aston Villa two years ago) approach and roll around on the floor as if he had been the injured party hoping the referee who have a change of heart.  No such luck and he was off, much to the away fans anger.

So 1-0 was not the best result for the home team.  The temperatures both on and off the pitch next week in Cyprus will be boiling, and with a high probability of a decent draw in the Group Stages it will certainly be one not to miss.